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How to use Twitter effectively as an author

3 October 2016

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Despite news of Twitter’s apparent, imminent sale, the social media platform that favours short updates of 140 characters over the naval-gazing monologues of Facebook posts remains a fantastic way to connect with people.

As an author, you may already have a Twitter account that has lay dormant for months, or you may wonder why on earth you should even bother signing up.

Here’s the long and short of it: if you’re a self-published novelist, you should absolutely have an active presence on Twitter. It’s a simply brilliant way to market both yourself and your work.

Social media is all about building a digital brand. For businesses, that means simply extending what they would have traditionally done with print advertising and appearances at trade shows to the digital realm, but for authors, it’s all about unleashing your personality, beliefs and values. Oh, and selling books, of course.

Imagine being in a massive room with unfettered access to the attention of the hundreds of thousands of people inhabiting it. That’s the opportunity you have if you invest some time in Twitter.

In this post, we’ll look at the basics of the platform and consider how authors can best make use of 140 characters.

The avatar and bio

Think of twitter as an online profile - a place where you can unveil the person behind the books. In this case, that person is you, so pick the best picture of yourself and treat the bio section as your own tagline. You get 160 characters for the latter, which isn’t much, but use them to tell people why they should follow you.


The speed with which Twitter’s hash-tagging feature made its way into the mainstream was mesmerising. That’s why we now see them at the start of virtually any TV program and the reason they’ve made their way into common vernacular (“hashtag awkward!” as many a reality star may say).

Hashtags are essentially ways of tagging your tweets so that they can be more easily found by people interested in the subject matter.

You shouldn’t go overboard, but if you’re publishing a fiction book that sits within the science fiction realm, adding #fiction and #scifi to the end of your tweet will put you in the most relevant bucket of content as people browse the network.

Remember: hashtags increase the chances of your tweets being found - don’t tweet without them.

Follow others and create lists

Twitter is a two-way affair. You’re only likely to start seeing an increase in relevant followers if you follow other users, retweet their content and engage in discussions.

Twitter’s ‘Lists’ feature can be particularly useful at this juncture, as it enables you to place the people you follow into categories, making the content easier to sift through on a daily basis. You may want a list that features high profile authors, another for influencers within the industry on which your writing is focussed and perhaps one for the accounts that share relevant news and self-publishing-related tips.

Use images judiciously

Twitter comes alive when users post imagery along with their 140 character musings. We’re a visual bunch, us humans, and people will engage more regularly with visual content.

Use sites like Pixabay and Canva to find royalty-free imagery and create your own text overlays. It’ll amplify the content you post and increase the likelihood of shares among your followers.

And finally…

Twitter is a news platform for many people with vast swathes of the population now turning to the service instead of the more traditional sources of headlines. And, as an author, you can capitalise on this by getting involved in trending topics.

The left-hand pane of the Twitter website will show you what’s currently trending. Latching onto the conversation by adjusting the context of the hashtag so that it relates to you will increase the visibility of your tweets considerably.

Above all - have fun and experiment. Happy tweeting!

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